$76 million, 200 new workers will get passenger complaints at Pearson Airport in Mississauga resolved faster


Published March 14, 2023 at 11:02 am

Federal Transport Minister and Mississauga Centre MP Omar Alghabra speaks earlier today at Pearson Airport in Mississauga.

A promise of $76 million and some 200 new workers at Pearson Airport in Mississauga and other airports across Canada is expected to greatly reduce stress for millions of air travellers, the federal government announced this morning (March 14).

Speaking at a news conference inside Terminal 1 at Pearson, Federal Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said the cash infusion will, among other things, pay for 200 new Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) workers who’ll be dedicated to greatly reducing or eliminating the backlog of more than 42,000 passenger complaints dating back to last summer.

In addition, he added, Ottawa will now place the burden of proof related to such complaints on the airlines, and not passengers.

Currently, there’s an 18-month wait list to deal with the record number of passenger complaints lodged against airlines at Pearson and other airports across Canada.

Alghabra said the “unprecedented number of complaints” from last summer, when Pearson and other airports experienced the greatest difficulty in moving travellers smoothly and quickly through terminals, greatly stretched CTA and other resources.

This announcement, said Alghabra, who’s also MP for Mississauga Centre, “will accelerate the processing of the complaints” as the new workers will “focus exclusively on the complaints.”

The transport minister didn’t say how long it might take to clear the backlog, only that it will mean a “significant improvement to the processing time” and that passengers will get any refunds due to them sooner.

Beyond that, he added, “this is only one step” in a series of reforms Ottawa will introduce to help air travellers in the coming months.

“I want Canadians to feel confident we are taking action…to get complaints processed as swiftly as possible,” Alghabra told reporters, adding more announcements to help travellers at Pearson and other Canadian airports are on the horizon.

The $76 million will be delivered in equal installments over three years, the minister said, and the 200 new workers will come on board on a similar schedule.

Mississauga–Streetsville MP Rechie Valdez and Brampton Centre MP Shafqat Ali were also in attendance for the announcement inside Terminal 1.

The funding news comes just days after one of the busiest travel days of the year at Pearson as tens of thousands of travellers jetted out of town last Friday for March break.

For much of 2022, particularly the busy summer season and Christmas travel rush, chaos, at times, plagued Pearson and other airports across the country as travellers dealt with delayed/cancelled flights, long lineups inside terminals and lost or delayed luggage.

Airport officials have said they’re confident the troubles are behind them and that systems are now in place to move the tens of millions of travellers each year through Pearson much more smoothly.

Alghabra has also come under fire for the situation at Pearson and other major Canadian airports.

He, too, has indicated that the situation has already improved at the airports, specifically Pearson, and that things will continue on that path.

At one point during the particularly difficult summer travel season in 2022, Pearson was identified in an international survey as the worst major airport in the world for delays.

Other measures planned at Pearson in the coming weeks and months include capping during any given hour the number of passengers that can arrive internationally or depart to the U.S.


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